Friday, May 18, 2007


You might think that a coach who’s team is on a 13 game win streak, alone in first place and pretty much dryed out from his 500th collegiate victory Gatorade bath would be calm, cool and collected but Mike Weathers is worried. “I picked Riverside to win this thing before the season began…” he says before cranking out a stream of facts and figures such as UCR hitting .401 last week, their “deep and powerful pitching staff”, great closers, etc. etc. So what’s left to do but play the games.

In one corner the above annointed Kings of the Inland Empire, the #16 UC Riverside Highlanders, (33-17, 12-3 Big West) winners of four in a row and 11 of their last 12. In the other corner, and ranked as high as #11, the yes-you-can-call-them Dirtbags again, LBSU 49ers (35-14, 13-2). The home stage favors LB, UCR is 0-6 at Blair and it is a place where home runs die well before the warning track. Now that opinion is both good and bad for the Dirtbags, who have had a impressive power surge of late, including Tuesday big flys from an unlikely pair, Jason Tweedy who had a three run bomb as part of a 4-for-5 day and AJ Pinocchio, a pinch-hit grand slam. And note we haven’t even mentioned reigning BWC Player of the week Chris Nelson who had five hits as part of LB’s season-high 24-hit 21-2 LMU lambasting.

The mound workers of course figure to restore some order although UCR will not have Mark Rzepczynski who is gone for the season with his glitzy 6-2, 2.72 numbers. He lost a battle with a counter top. The UCRs do offer the amazing James Simmons with his 9-2 record and 2.11 ERA. Improving Manny McElroy (5-1, 3.59) goes first for the Beach who get a wounded warrior back in the form of former starter now reliever Vance Worley. The other LB call to arms are relievers-now-starters Shane Peterson and Andrew Liebel leaving former starter Omar Arif, Dustin Rasco, and David Roberts as a bridge to closer (never a starter) Bryan Shaw. Maybe. Pay attention this could be on the final.

GUESSING DUST—More from Mike who thinks that his team will have to “figure out how to be in position to win before we get to the eighth inning”…in the polls BA moved us up 4 spots to #18, moved us up 3 spots to #16, CB moved us up 5 spots to #11, ESPN/USA moved us up 5 spots to #18 and NCBWA moved us up 3 spots to #17…last week UCR had nine home runs in the three games led by Kyle Barratt,.406 (13-for-32) over his last eight…and if you think that LB fans like their shortstop the UCRs think that their SS Jaime Pedroza is even better. Jaime has hit safely in 22 of the last 24 games and reached base safely in 37 of the last 40. He is hitting .455 and has 15 RBI in the last 12 games. For closing Taylor Bills has allowed just one earned run in his last five appearances and Joe Kelly is 2-1 with an 0.78 ERA in 18 pen outings Big West games both teams are scoring machines. LB enters hitting .322, giving up 4.73 runs per game and scoring 8.87 per game. UCR has a .308 batting average, allows 4.27 RPG and scores at a 7.07 per game clip. Translated, for a foggy Friday night figure on a 4-3 game…UCR won the opener against LBSU at home last year, 7-1, but the 49ers came back to take the series with an 11-9, 12 inning win on Saturday and Sunday’s 5-2 victory…back to the MIA, it was Rzepczynski who nailed the Titans at UCR with a complete game three-hitter (walking one and fanning nine) which makes him okay with me…expect Matt Montgomery (3-0 , 3.18) to fill Rzeps spot on Saturday and Pat Cassa (2-3, 4.07) on Sunday …now to what one of our trusty correspondents says is “Lights, Cameras, Action?” Translated, back in the last decade the City of Long Beach was a few dollars short of rehabbing Blair Field and the lighting dollars were trimmed…that doesn’t mean that LB is out for a regional or super, it does mean that somebody will have to pony up about $20-25,000 to rent and hopefully get it fixed by next season…making the first pitches this weekend are some of the finer student athletes on campus, golfers Brett Lederer and Kay Hoey tonight and pound for pound maybe the best Niner this year, BWC tennis MVP Hannah Grady…make her comfortable because she’s English and prefers cricket…proud papa time from Dan Smith about his daughter Mackenzie…”she just finished her first season of softball and drove in the game-winning RBI with a line shot off the best pitcher in the league”…last add regionals, get your ticket applications tonight and take a couple for your office-bound pals…finally, I don’t have a dog in these fights but you might…Fullerton visits Cal Poly who will sorely miss the leagues best hitter Grant Desme (he is/was leading the Big West in the triple crown categories at .405-15-53); Northridge is at UC Irvine (if they played six inning games the Mats might have a chance); UCSB plays improving UC Davis; and Pacific,(see CSUN lack of closers note), plays Stanford—DR. DAN


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